While much more than our eggs are being scrambled in the mornings, our Jenison Transportation Department is busy driving 33 buses on 29 routes to bring 1700 kids to school! Every year, this team of 29 drivers [and 11 subs] drive more than 300,000 miles, stopping at 1500 stops each day!
Transportation Director, Kip Medendorp, had been leading the JPS team since August but spent the last fourteen years as a Transportation Director with Whitehall and Reeths Puffer school districts and he’s been working in the field of transportation for 28 years. He works hard to maintain a safe, efficient, cost effective system that follows state law and school policies. He also provides support to drivers to ensure successful runs as well as leading training, student discipline, bus stop information and overseeing bus repairs.
This year the department is working hard to improve parent communication by including more bus stop information on the their web page as well as providing the Bus Stop Change Form online that saves parents from having to call in when this type of change is necessary.
While it may seem no different than the shuttling parents do to team practices, dance classes, errands and club meetings, our JPS bus drivers are thoroughly vetted and trained before they hit the road! “The first thing I ask is, if they like children. After I explain the job responsibilities for transporting students, showing the run maps and showing how the bus works….if that hasn’t scared them off, we start the training process. They will have to pass a physical and a background check. The person will then study a CDL manual, take a few written tests given by the Secretary of State and will be issued a driver training license. They are trained for no less than 10 hours before they take their bus driver test. Then we have the driver do some additional behind the wheel training with current Jenison drivers before we send them out alone.”
Once they are on the road with students, drivers must maintain a safe and enjoyable bus ride while staying on a set schedule but they also provide that first and last smile of the day. “Thinking back over the years, I have seen so many acts of compassion and kindness toward students. I ride along on the bus from time to time and see the smiles on the children’s faces knowing that each driver is making a difference in their lives each day.”
“JPS has a great group of professional drivers that love what they do and they treat each child on their bus as their own. They often refer to the students on their buses as “my kids” and know each student by name. The drivers are very proud of what they do and will keep their students on the bus safe. Most of the drivers live and have families in the Jenison community, some are even former students. Some drivers have been at JPS long enough to see the students start school and go on to graduate. ”